August 08, 2003


A couple of guys from The Future Laboratory, some sort of trend-spotting deal, were on ABC radio last night. Their data-acquiring technique involves poring through people’s garbage. One of the Future dudes mentioned that during an appearance on a European radio network (which I won’t name, for reasons that will become obvious) they were invited to examine the host’s trash -- and discovered, live to air, that the host was having an affair. “What did you find?” asked ABC presenter James O’Loghlin, understandably curious. “Oh, cheque stubs, hotel receipts, and the like,” the Future boys answered. “The producer realised what was happening, and turned grey.”

O’Loghlin: “Why? Who was the host having an affair with?”

Future boys: “The producer.”

It only took a few minutes of Googling to turn up a likely candidate. Memo to talkative futurists: here in the present exists a thing called “the Internet”. It’s a great way to get yourselves (and others) in trouble.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 8, 2003 12:50 PM

And a great way to have affairs- you can become deeply besotted with "Doris, 16yr old schoolgirl nympho" who is in fact a 43 year old male Turkish truckie with piles and homicidal halitosis.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 8, 2003 at 01:36 PM

Check their website. Or rather, don't. Here are some choice bits.

" ...we use ethnographic research tools and a qualitative outlook to help brands, retailers, designers, ad agencies and marketers gain better insights into market directions ...

... bespoke client services aimed at supporting clients' marketing and planning initiatives at all stages ... these include scenario planning, insight management, trend cradling, cartographic mapping, narrative planning and the design, building and deployment of in-house consumer forecasting networks."

Trend cradling. So much more impressive than mere trend spotting.

And cartographic mapping? What the hell other kind is there?

Clearly, these guys are churning through garbage overtime.

Posted by: ilibcc at August 8, 2003 at 02:29 PM

Tim's right. I reproduced his Google results in a couple of minutes. And the home page of the Future Laboratory guys is quite a sight, at least for someone like me.

I work in a chemistry laboratory (and blog about it,) so I always get a kick out of seeing people appropriate chemical structures, etc., just because they look neat. It's like the English on Japanese t-shirts.

We can assume that the entry barriers are a bit lower in the trend-prediction game than they are for organic chemistry. At least, I hope they are.

Posted by: Derek Lowe at August 9, 2003 at 02:54 AM

Wow, they can find things out about people, just by sifting through their rubbish? If only the police and private investigators knew about this; what a boon it would be!

Posted by: Scot at August 9, 2003 at 06:34 AM

Scot -

You haven't been reading enough spy stories - the technical term is a "trash cover" - see

Posted by: Cracker Barrel Philosopher at August 9, 2003 at 11:55 AM